F1 Hot News
By Andrew Maitland
February 14, 2005

'We're listening' - FIA
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Ferrari will have to cough up $1 million if Austria 2002 were ever repeated.

Then, the scarlet pitwall - to the booing fans' chagrin - orchestrated a finish-line switch to put Michael Schumacher on the top podium step.

FIA president Max Mosley said officials now access all cars' encrypted pit-to-car radio and would come down hard on those imposing team orders.

''We are listening,'' he told the Sunday Mirror, ''(so) they have to be damn careful what they do.''

Mosley agrees, though, that team orders are a traditional part of motor racing. He said the FIA would only interfere for the sake of 'the sport.'

Minardi face Oz ban
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) F1 minnow Minardi may not turn a wheel at next month's Australian grand prix.

It's understood that every team except Ferrari have approved team owner Paul Stoddart running the 'old' PS04B model until a 2005-legal car is ready in late April.

But such a dispensation would require unanimity.

Stoddart, an Australian, is running the line that the PS04B 'is legal' because the FIA unlawfully imposed the 2005 code.

FIA president Max Mosley, however, admitted that - in the absence of Ferrari's deciding vote - scrutineers at Albert Park will not permit the black-and-white car to exit pitlane.

Stoddart replied: 'I'd be surprised if we were not allowed to race under protest.''

Mexican drove Jordan car
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Mexican Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez, on Friday, tested Jordan's Toyota-powered car.

But, due to fog and heavy rain, the 30-year-old returned to the Silverstone garage after just a single lap.

''Mario visited the factory,'' a spokeswoman confirmed, while a source said the driver then returned to America.

With the race seats locked out, Dominguez is still linked with a role next year, and a further test drive in 2005.

Button: 'nearly' quickest
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) BAR driver Jenson Button stormed the last formal day at Jerez (Friday), nearly eclipsing Fernando Alonso's best time of the whole test.

McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and Toyota also ran, before BAR and Toyota stayed on for a Michelin wet weekend.

Ricardo Zonta topped Sunday's timesheet -- because Jenson Button had gone home.

But the pair were amused a day earlier, when the Michelin water tanker slid into the gravel trap and could not be removed with the normal equipment.

''After (Takuma Sato's) rear wing problem,'' England's Button said, ''and then the spins, the car felt great (on Friday) and really consistent.''

Ferrari to launch new F1 car
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Michael Schumacher is not yet panicking about Ferrari's seemingly uninspiring pace in winter testing.

The seven time world champion acknowledged that McLaren and Renault appear quicker, but said a similar picture emerged prior to the 2004 season opener.

''I'm hoping it's going to be a similar story,'' the German said, ''but I do expect those two teams to probably be the toughest to beat in Melbourne.''

Ferrari will start 2005 with a modified version of the older F2004, before debuting a new one at the Spanish grand prix (May 8).

The team announced on Friday that F2005 would be officially launched at Maranello on 25 February (11am).

Ralf's struggling
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Ralf Schumacher is struggling at the wheel of his first Toyota F1 car.

The German, about a second per lap on average slower than teammate Jarno Trulli in testing, said understeer is 'not ideal' for his driving style.

''Simply, it's difficult for me to drive,'' Schumacher agreed.

Ralf, 29, spent a bit of time spinning at Jerez last week, and also admitted to 'trying too hard.'

The TF105 will be fitted with its Melbourne-spec aerodynamic package at Barcelona this week. Schumacher said an improvement would be 'appreciated.'

Toyota's Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, left Jerez (Spain) late last week with 'flu.

FIA ease 'loophole' fear
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) The FIA has lightened speculation that teams may exploit an engine rule 'loophole' in 2005.

It's suggested that, to avoid penalty for changing an engine, a driver could simply fake retirement on the slowing down lap (or earlier) of a grand prix.

Then, according to the new two-race rule, his team can legitimately fit a fresh engine for the next event, while competitors are forced to carry over their used V10 unit.

Max Mosley said: ''If somebody did it habitually we would know.

''The advantage you get isn't that big.''

Sato 'shock' at new BAR
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) BAR believe Takuma Sato's rear wing failure at Jerez last week was an 'isolated' incident.

The Brackley-based team, though, said it would continue to carry out an investigation.

''It was a difficult week,'' said Sato, the team's Japanese driver, who also crashed the next day. ''We had a few issues but have come out stronger.''

The 27-year-old earlier reported 'shock' at the '007' car's good balance and handling but 'absolute lack of grip.'

He added: ''We're not making use of the tires. I was really, really shocked how far behind we were.''

BAR-Honda, with a new aero kit, will now unpack for the testing week at Valencia (Spain).

Friesacher for Minardi
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Austrian driver Patrick Friesacher is set to race into 2005 as the next Formula One rookie.

Despite Nicolas Kiesa's reported pole position for the second team ride, Minardi announced on Friday that 'an important press conference' would be held at Casino Velden on Tuesday.

Velden is just 25km from Klagenfurt airport -- Austria. 24-year-old Friesacher was previously linked to Faenza's vacant 'Friday' test role.

About $7.5m would buy the Minardi pay drive.

'We break down too often'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Renault's ultra-quick R25 car is not reliable enough, according to team driver Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard nabbed the fastest time at last week's bumper Jerez test and the team is shaping up - with McLaren - as Ferrari's main rival for '05 glory.

''But we have too many failures,'' 23-year-old Alonso told Spanish publication Marca. ''We are setting good times on track (but) we can't go to Australia like this.''

Renault's engineering director Pat Symonds agreed that there's 'no point' being quick if the car isn't good enough for the checkered flag.

He insisted: ''We haven't yet run the ... Australia specification.''

How good is F1's iceman?
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Beating Michael Schumacher is a sweet taste, Juan Pablo Montoya admitted.

But, beating him in a silver (German made) Mercedes-Benz? ''Beautiful,'' the Colombian predicted.

The 29-year-old, in 2005, will drive a Stuttgart-powered McLaren. He was also asked by German 'Bild' newspaper just how good new F1 teammate Kimi Raikkonen is.

''He's very good,'' Montoya said, ''but only as good as (ex-teammate) Ralf (Schumacher) on a good day.'' He also played down criticism that Raikkonen was foolish to be caught drunk in an adult club.

''I let my hair down sometimes,'' JPM said, ''usually in Miami -- the difference is, nobody cares there.''

'Sign up or be left out'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Max Mosley has warned that teams faltering on the new 'Concorde Agreement' might not get a say in what the 2008 rulebook might look like.

The FIA president said there's 'no point' talking to a team that 'plan to do something else.'

Mosley ally Bernie Ecclestone, in a bid to stave off the 'breakaway' threat, is offering 50 per cent of all F1-related revenue to teams.

The (non-Ferrari) teams will meet with the GPWC group next week to, supposedly, hear a counter offer.

Only Ferrari have officially joined Bernie's new Concorde club, but Max Mosley said it'd be 'foolish' to assume that others hadn't also signed.

Indian GP back on agenda
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) A future Indian grand prix has wandered back onto the F1 agenda.

'Supremo' Bernie Ecclestone told Indian BBC that the sub-continent's most populous nation will 'definitely' have a race by 2008.

''It's just a case of where,'' he added, albeit earmarking Mumbai (formerly Bombay) - in the state of Maharashtra - as the probable setting.

Narain Karthikeyan will become the first Indian to start a grand prix in Melbourne (Australia) next month.

74-year-old Ecclestone also mentioned Calcutta and Hyderabad as 'linked' with the GP effort.

'Paul for President' a joke
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Paul Stoddart's supposed candidacy as the next FIA president started out as no more than a joke.

That's the claim of incumbent Max Mosley.

He said the Minardi chief got the idea after a playful Bernie Ecclestone promised to have made 'Paul for President' t-shirts for the Australian grand prix.

''Apparently Paul ... took it seriously,'' Max added, however indicating that the bid would also have the support of 'one or two' others.

Radical 'box is legal - FIA
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) The legality of BAR's controversial 2005 gearbox was rubber stamped by the FIA.

Despite claims that the design is a form of the outlawed 'continuous variable transmission' (CVT), Honda director Shuhei Nakamoto said the FIA checked the super-quick system and 'everything is legal.'

FIA president Max Mosley, meanwhile, told British media that up to three other teams - probably Renault, McLaren and Williams - will also debut the 'fascinating' technology in Melbourne next month.

He said the 'seamless'-dubbed 'box is able to change a car's gear with 'no break in power.'

GP winner died
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Two-time grand prix winner Maurice Trintignant, 87, died at the weekend.

The Frenchman, also a viniculturist and sometime mayor of Vergeze, won Le Mans in 1954 and contested 82 grands prix from 1950 to 1964.

Trintignant - driving for Maserati, Ferrari and Cooper, nicknamed the 'gentleman racer' and retiring at the handsome age of 47 - died in a hospital near Nimes.

Sauber spend week at HQ
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Sauber hope a new front nose and wing will help the C24 car get up to speed prior to the imminent Australian grand prix.

The little Swiss team, after initial running of the new Hinwil-built model, will not - like nearly every rival - test at a circuit this week.

''We realise there are some changes to be made,'' young driver Felipe Massa told Autosport, following a disappointing spate of ultimate speed.

The Brazilian also revealed that the unique 'two-storey' front wing won't feature on the C24's definitive Australia-spec.

Sauber return to the test track, for the final pre-Australia run, on Saturday (Imola).

Schu's 'my hero' - F1 rookie
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) India's Narain Karthikeyan has two objectives for the upcoming Australian grand prix -- to qualify and race well, and to meet Michael Schumacher.

The pair shook hands briefly when Karthikeyan, Jordan/Midland's team rookie, tested for Jaguar back in 2001.

''You know, he's my hero,'' the 28-year-old said in London.

''Suddenly, I'm driving against him, he's my equal. I can't tell you how that makes me feel.''

Karthikeyan is, though, keen to drive another message home to supporters in India -- 'don't expect me to beat him' (Schumacher).

''There's no way I can manage even a podium in Melbourne,'' he added, also no doubt getting fed up with a constant stream of requests for interviews.

Asked if he enjoys the attention, Narain relied: ''Not really, but I understand what's expected of me now.

''If I could, I'd just drive all the time.''

Test pact to fold - again
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) A nine-team agreement to limit testing in 2005 could be about to fall apart -- again.

Speculation says BAR-Honda might reconsider their involvement in the 'gentlemen's agreement' should Ferrari not also join in prior to Melbourne.

The part Honda-owned, Brackley-based team finished second to Ferrari in the '04 constructors' world championship.

The nine teams' agreement is for a 30-day in-season threshold, but Ferrari intend to plug ahead on their own 15,000km mileage cap.

FIA president Max Mosley, meanwhile, believes the gentleman's agreement is destined to fail. ''If we want to (reduce testing),'' he said, ''we need a regulation.''

F1 set for 'breakaway' summit
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) F1's 'group of nine' will next week meet to consider the mooted carmaker (GPWC)-run 'breakaway' world championship.

With Bernie Ecclestone's $1 billion, 50 per cent 'Concorde' offer in their collective pocket, they'll - supposedly - - push GPWC for an even better counterproposal.

The so-dubbed 'Go9' met for a briefing last Wednesday, (with an absent Toyota instead sending along a document), to map out a plan for the GPWC summit.

Ferrari has already signed up to 74-year-old Ecclestone's 2008-2012 commercial agreement.

''I don't think there will ever be two championships,'' FIA president Max Mosley commented. ''The reality is that sooner or later it'll be resolved.''

Schu's team 'third best'
(GMMF1.NET -- Feb.14) Michael Schumacher's Ferrari is currently the third quickest car on the grand prix grid.

That's the claim of the German's younger brother, Toyota-driving Ralf, who said the strongest in winter testing has been Renault.

''(They are) slightly ahead of McLaren,'' the 29-year-old told Autosport, ''then there's Ferrari. I think then it's Williams and BAR, then us.''

Schumacher also said in the interview that Toyota are 'far more open' than former six-year grand prix employer, Williams.

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